the last word

June 1, 2005
Truck makeover Taking a cue from the Extreme Makeover TV show, BP Lubricants USA Inc. has kicked off the Castrol Tection Extra Big Honkin' Truck Makeover. The grand prize winner of the essay-with-photo contest will score an internal, external and communication makeover valued at $50,000 for their vehicle weighing more than 10,000 lbs (Class 3-8). The winning truck, including before and after photos,
Truck makeover

Taking a cue from the “Extreme Makeover” TV show, BP Lubricants USA Inc. has kicked off the “Castrol Tection Extra Big Honkin' Truck Makeover.” The grand prize winner of the essay-with-photo contest will score an “internal, external and communication makeover” valued at $50,000 for their vehicle weighing more than 10,000 lbs (Class 3-8). The winning truck, including before and after photos, will be featured on the company's web site.

Interested parties can register online at All submissions, whether via mail or Internet, must include a vehicle photo and essay in 50 words or less describing why the entrant deserves the makeover.

Online entries are due by July 15 and mailed submissions must be postmarked by July 15. Judging will be based on the following criteria: 50% originality and creativity, 25% relevance of essay to theme, 25% photographic appeal.


I thought your article (“Manager's Toolbox,” 5/05) interesting …your article pushed my buttons on a subject I have preached on over and over — training entry level mechanics. Being raised with trucks and a father who did much of his own maintenance I couldn't help but learn mechanics… He had farm-milk pickup routes in Wisconsin and every truck ran seven days a week, no exceptions…. Almost twenty years ago, my wife and I had an opportunity to rent a small shop and start a truck repair business. We have grown over the years and have had several grads from truck tech schools work for us, all who have been disappointed by the actual entry-level positions afforded them‥ One young man on his first day stated he thought he'd “made a mistake.” After two years of school, he didn't have a clue how a shop functioned or that he would have to contribute to the profitability of it…I have said for years to vo-tech people that they are 180 degrees out in their classes. The students they graduate…need to know how to do basic PMs. Give me a youngster for six months and I'll have a mechanic who can go to work in any shop, anywhere.
Don Bigelow
Rock River Truck Repair, Inc.
Fort Atkinson, WI

Fuel… for fuel

Rail giant Union Pacific (UP) is feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices. It consumes some 3.25-million gallons of diesel a day and has seen its fuel costs jump by hundreds of millions of dollars over the past year. To help get a better handle on this, a new “Fuel Masters” program is rewarding fuel-saving engineers with $50 cards that they can use to offset their own personal fuel bills.

An engineer's conservation efforts are determined by comparing monthly fuel consumption performance against fellow engineers in the same territory. A one-to-two-month snapshot of each engineer's fuel consumption performance is used to calculate individual average consumption rates. Engineers are grouped by pool or specific run to eliminate variances such as flat versus hilly terrain. Each month engineers in the top 10% to 15% of each pool are awarded a fuel card.

“‘Fuel for Fuel’ is more than a dollar-saving program, it's also an important conservation initiative for the railroad,” says Wayne Kennedy, director of UP Six Sigma.

“The market for hiring drivers is tight… our salaries, wages and employee benefits and other expense lines reflect the additional costs required to keep our tractors manned. However, those dollars are being put to good use.”
-Robert M. Powell, chairman & CEO, USA Truck Inc.

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